Author: Melanie Dunn

Lawyer Moms and the Billable Hours Requirement

I apologize in advance for what may seem like a post geared toward a limited audience. But as a lawyer who is both a mom and interested in the legal workplace and careers in general, I will feel compelled from time to time to talk about mothering in the context of lawyering, as well as lawyering in the context of mothering. And if you’re not a lawyer, I hope that you are nevertheless able to generalize some of this stuff to your own career or workplace. Most firms have an annual billable hours requirement that hovers in the vicinity of 1800 hours for small to mid-sized firms. I’ve never been quite sure whether “requirement” means YOU WILL BE FIRED FOR NOT MEETING 1800 HOURS, or if it’s more like “well it’s not good if you don’t make it, but we’ll kind of look the other way for a while, maybe your bonus will be impacted, maybe it won’t.” I should also explain, for the uninitiated, that a “billable hour” is time that can, at least in theory, be charged to a client. So let’s say you put in ten hours at the office. Let’s say one hour is taken up by running to Starbucks, chatting with your friend in the hallway, shopping online since there’s no kids around to distract you, and calling the salon to reschedule your hair...

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Children at Weddings

I was in a wedding last Saturday at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA, a historic inn built in the 1770’s that still operates as an inn, has a restaurant, taproom and bakery, and hosts weddings and other events, seemingly all at once. Historic buildings have really narrow, windy staircases, random steps in the middle of long hallways, and creaky floorboards. Navigation is difficult in these places, due not only to the aforementioned architectural features and multiple events happening under one roof, but also because of the hordes of elderly folks waiting in line to be seated for dinner, and the many little children underfoot. It just so happened that this weekend, several such children were there accompanying their parents to the wedding I was in. Children were (kinda, sorta) not allowed in the ceremony, but were ok during the reception. Before I launch into this, let me first say that I got married 3 years ago at the relatively young yet appropriately wisened age of 29. By this I mean that I was at the “perfect” age to get married, as one nosy OB/GYN once commented to me. (Why, when I am getting a pap smear, does the person performing this somewhat mortifying procedure feel the need to share motherly words of wisdom about my impending nuptials? The only thing worse was when my chiropractor told me not...

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Need to Know: Connecticut Law on Workplace Pumping

I was recently asked what an employee’s rights are in the workplace concerning expressing (pumping) breastmilk. This is such an important issue, that it constitutes one of the rare instances in which I am happy to provide “employee-side” guidance on the law as opposed to my usual role in representing management. But then, I also don’t think it’s burdensome on the employer, I believe it has a positive public health impact, and I would strongly encourage all of the clients I work for at my firm to try their best to comply with the law. Below is a re-hash of some information I provided on this topic. DISCLAIMER: none of this constitutes legal advice, and I am not acting as your lawyer by virtue of providing this info. Talk to your lawyer about your particular situation. Use some common sense, in other words. Otherwise … In 2001, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act No. 01-182, An Act Concerning Breastfeeding in the Workplace. This legislation created a new section of the Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S. § 31-40w), which provides that “[a]ny employee may, at her discretion, express breast milk or breastfeed on site at her workplace during her meal or break period.” In addition, this law requires employers to “make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, other than a...

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I Ate My Placenta (and Other Stories My Husband Doesn’t Want Me to Tell You).

So by now, if you haven’t noticed by my discussions on homebirth and breastfeeding, I am sort of into natural family living/attachment parenting (i.e., fancy names for hippie stuff having to do with kids), and all of the “weird” things that go along with it.  Well, not all.  We haven’t tried Elimination Communication yet.  Maybe with the next kid. But this is really a hidden gem that I believe deserves more attention, for the benefit of countless women who experience the effects – ranging from somewhat annoying to outright devastating – of postpartum depression. Eat your placenta! Well, actually, don’t literally eat it, because that’s kind of gross. During my pregnancy, I stumbled upon some online discussions about the benefits of the mother ingesting the placenta after birth to help fight postpartum depression.  I asked my midwife about this, and she mentioned the name of a CT doula, Stacie Mandeville of Inner Wisdom Birth Services, who is certified in placenta encapsulation. I contacted Stacie and made arrangements for her to come to my house after the birth and do whatever it is she needs to do in my kitchen to dry my placenta and put it in capsule form for me to take like a daily vitamin.  I forget the cost now but I think it was around $150.  It was great – she brought her own equipment, prepared...

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Arguing with Your Real-Life Friends over Things Like Breastfeeding Is Much Worse than Having Online Debates with Strangers.

Someone needs to talk about this issue, and it looks like it’s going to be me.  Women get really, really sensitive over all things pregnancy and parenting related.  That’s not hyperbole.  It’s just true.  Yes, this is a sex/gender stereotype.  But sometimes stereotypes exist because they have a kernel of truth to them.  I have not met a single woman who went through pregnancy, childbirth and the early days of parenting, including myself, who didn’t get her panties all in a bunch over some issue that, at the end of the day, is truly insignificant in the greater scheme of things.  However, in the heat of the moment, when you’ve given in to that internet troll who says that daycare causes violence in children, or overhear some comment by a stranger at a party about how breastfeeding in public is just so gross, nothing is more important than turning red in the face and letting loose a mouthful of just how wrong that person totally is.  And it never feels good, either.  It just feels awful, and you realize that you were reacting to the possibility–however remote–that maybe, just maybe, YOU are the one who is wrong.  Either that or you are confident that you’re right, but simply can’t understand how everyone around you can be so stupid.  Don’t tell me that you’re open-minded and non-judgmental.  Because then you’d...

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